Behold, the Komodo dragon! Where did I take this photograph? In a zoo? No. In the wilds of Indonesia. The occasion was a visit to our daughter working out there. What an excellent excuse to see Komodo dragons in the wild. Two planes and a boat trip later saw us walking through tropic jungle seeking dragons.
These beasts are not to be trifled with. A few years ago a bold Swiss tourist set out alone to photograph them. He did not return. All that was found of him were his glasses and camera! Their bite leads to blood-poisoning which kills in fifteen minutes. There is no cure, and the nearest hospital is a three-hour boat ride away. So what protective measures did we take?
We had a ranger. He had a stick. No, really, a stick. No gun, no special equipment. Just a forked stick. However, I must say that I felt very safe. Why? These rangers are very experienced, they understand the dragons, and there have only been four human deaths in the last 40 years. They may only carry a stick, but they know how to use it.
It’s not the deadliness of the enemy that matters, but the power of the protector. We are right to ‘fear’ the devil in one sense, but not in another. We know he is a coward, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV11), but what is he afraid of? Us? No – the one who accompanies us. The same passage in James reminds us to first, “Submit yourselves, then, to God” (James 4:7 NIV11), and remember that if we, “Come near to God … he will come near to you.” (James 4:8 NIV11).
The dragons kept away from me and my family not because of our imposing presence, but because they knew the rangers knew how to use those sticks! What is the secret to enjoying God’s protection? How do we submit and come near to God? According to this passage in James by doing three things,
- Pray with right motives (James 4.3). Pray for God to be honoured, not for selfish purposes.
- Grieve over sin (James 4.8-9). This is not self-flagellation, but soberness of heart.
- Trust God (James 4.10). He will lift us up. He will not leave us in the pit.
As Psalm 34 says, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” (Psalms 34:7 NIV11) With this protection we need fear no one and nothing. Come demons, dragons – or even death, we have a guide, protector and saviour. What a comforting thought!